Some fairgoers may boast attendance to the Great New York State Fair for 10, 20 or 30 years, but for two Fair employees — they’ve been clocking in for 50 years in a row.
Kathy Tuzzolino and Jim Crosby are about to cap off their 50th year working at the Fair.
Crosby started out on the Fairgrounds by picking up trash from midnight to noon. Then three years later, he started running the parking lots on the Fairgrounds. Tuzzolino is the maintenance clerk.
About 30 years ago, Crosby became the layout manager for the Fair.
While he’s been on the job of making the layout work for decades, Crosby says the biggest changes have happened in just the past few years.
“The biggest change was last year when the grandstand came down and the track came down,” Crosby said.
He says the addition of the new expo center for next year’s Fair will also be a drastic change to the layout and how the crew decides where to place vendors and exhibits.
Some may be surprised to learn that this is first time computers are being used for laying out the Fair.
“There were some glitches — a learning curve for the process,” Crosby shared.
For decades, Crosby said mylar, or plastic sheets, were used to lay out all the pieces of the puzzle.
“We’d erase things and add things and then go out and mark the grounds,” Crosby said.
Drones are now used to take aerial shots for layout purposes. Crosby says the days of going up in the helicopter are over.
With 50 years on the Fairgrounds, Crosby knows every inch of it, but more importantly, he says he’s gotten to know so many great people.
“It’s emotional,” Crosby said. “You go ahead and build a city. That city functions for 13 days and then all of a sudden, bang, it’s over. It’s done. You come out to the Fairgrounds two days from now, where did everybody go?”
Crosby says he plans to lay out at least two or three more New York State Fairs, but he says it’s possible there could be a few more after that.
“It’s been a great time,” Crosby said. “If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have done it for 50 years.”